The Yankees needed Gerrit Cole to be a stopper on Tuesday night, and a stopper he was, shutting the Mariners down for 7.1 innings. The ace allowed just a single run on four hits while striking out eight, finishing with five in a row after punching out just three in his first five innings. Staked to an early lead, Cole overcame another relatively tepid offensive performance to snap the Yankees’ four-game losing streak, handing the ball directly to Clay Holmes for a five-out save and a 3-1 victory.
Cole threw virtually nothing but four-seamers and sliders for the second straight start, filling up the top of the zone with mid-90s fastballs and reaching back for 98 and 99 when he needed it. Before returning to strike out the first batter in the eighth, it appeared that Cole’s night had ended with a dramatic back-and-forth with José Caballero in the seventh that included multiple disengagements, games with the pitch clock, and Cole throwing a pitch 30 feet high into the backstop before sitting down Caballero with a 98 mph-fastball and doing whatever this hilarity is:
I have to imagine the memes will already be rolling by the time this goes to press. (For those curious, the point was directed at M’s skipper Scott Servais, per Cole.)
The only ding on Cole’s line came in the sixth inning, when a just-barely-hit-by-pitch put Ty France on base and was followed by an admittedly well-struck RBI double from Jarred Kelenic.
The Yankees, meanwhile, struck early on George Kirby, quickly ending his shutout bid tonight after taking one through eight innings when they saw each other three weeks ago. Gleyber Torres singled to start the action, and a Giancarlo Stanton strikeout — the start of another tough day at the plate for the big man — was followed by a would-by fly out off Anthony Rizzo’s bat. It deflected off Teoscar Hernández’s glove for a double to start the scoring, staking Cole an early lead.
Harrison Bader returned to the lineup tonight, and he provided an instant spark with his first plate appearance of the day in the bottom of the second, singling to start the inning and stealing second base before coming around to score on a 432-foot moonshot from Billy McKinney, the only member of the Yankees’ lineup today with an OPS higher than Bader.
It was an exciting start, but McKinney’s home run seemed to startle Kirby into his typical groove, and he ultimately allowed only three further hits while working through the seventh inning, finishing with his 11th quality start of the season in 14 tries. They also became the latest team to fail to coax a walk out of Kirby, whose season total still sits at six over 87.2 innings.
On the other end of things, the suddenly surging Holmes faced little trouble recording the save after the modicum of drama at the end of Cole’s night. He retired all five of the batters he faced to cap off an expeditious game of baseball that saw just four pitchers used (What a rarity, in this era of five-and-dives!) and finished with a run time of just two hours and nine minutes.
The Yankees will attempt to take the series tomorrow night in the Bronx, where Jhony Brito is slated to come up and face Seattle co-ace Luis Castillo, who has sustained three losses in a row after an electric start to the season. First pitch is at 7:05 pm ET, so we’ll see you there.